If you travel to Walt Disney World with young children, meeting Mickey and his friends will probably be top priority. It will also be a highlight of your trip!
Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom. If you time your arrival just right, like my friend Tara did, you may catch sight of a few Characters before you even enter the Park. Here are Aladdin, Jasmine, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse at the Main Street, U.S.A., train depot greeting arriving Guests with a few of their friends.
Often, Characters like Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Pluto, Pooh Bear, and Pinocchio appear in and around Town Square, handing out hugs and posing for pictures. Captain Jack Sparrow and Aladdin and Jasmine can be found in Adventureland. Woody and Jessie, Davy Crockett Donald Duck, and the Country Bears are frequently spotted in Frontierland. Alice and the Mad Hatter sometimes take a spin with Guests at the Mad Tea Party. Chip ‘n’ Dale look ready to board the Asto Orbiter in Tomorrowland. And, of course, a host of princes and princesses attend Cinderella’s Royal Table. But the hotspot for Character greets at Magic Kingdom is in the Judge’s Tent by Mickey’s Country House in Mickey’s Toontown Fair.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is often the first place Characters from the latest Disney animated films appear, performing in stage shows, attractions, and parades, and stopping for photo ops with Park visitors. Mickey Avenue is a prime meeting place for Minnie Mouse and Pluto. We have also seen Mary Poppins there. Toy Story Three’s Lotso Huggin’ Bear is at Pixar Place, some Green Army Men interact with Guests near Toy Story Mania, and Monsters Inc.’s Mike and Sully can be found near the Studios Backlot Tour by the Flatbread Grill. Lightning McQueen and Mater pose with friends on the Streets of America. Several other Characters appear throughout the day near the Sorcerer’s Hat and the Great Movie Ride.
While live animals are the main attraction at Animal Kingdom, when we visited, we hit the Character jackpot! Timone practically walked right up to us as we walked toward the entrance gate. It was nice to start the day with furry hugs. We arrived at the Camp Minnie-Mickey’s greeting trails right before Festival of the Lion King let out. That means we had fun with Chip ‘n’ Dale, Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Thumper, Brer Bear, and Pocahontas with zero wait! We also got a fabulous surprise. My two younger kids got to hold Mickey’s hand and walk with him down the trail to his greeting pavilion! They still rave about that! We also met A Bug’s Life’s Flick and saw DiVine up close and personal in Asia. (Sorry I turned the camera sideways!)
Epcot’s Character Spot is another location that guarantees Character meets. Located in Innoventions West, these five themed areas present Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Chip ‘n’ Dale. We were pleased to spot Daisy Duck and Stitch near Spaceship Earth one afternoon during our recent visit. Don’t rule out World Showcase! Mulan and Mushu spend time at the China Pavilion, Snow White frequents Germany, Aladdin and his pals hang out in Morocco, and Belle and her friends visit France. And if you dine at Norway’s Akershus Restaurant, numerous princes and princesses will be your hosts.
Appearances vary, so when you enter each Park, grab the schedule of show times and performances. On it, you will also find times and locations where you can meet Characters. Be sure to look for Mickey’s glove placards on Park maps and signs in the Parks pointing out Character spots. Several times a day at each Park, parades and stage performances offer fabulous views and (sometimes) interaction with a variety of costumed friends. Select Resorts, eateries, and adventures also feature Character appearances.
In the Parks, designated Character spots are denoted by a sign in the shape of a white Mickey glove. Create your own sign or symbol and use it to guide your children on a scavenger hunt. Parents, send your kids to a certain room of your home while you strategically hide 10 of their favorite stuffed animals (preferably plush dolls of Mickey Mouse & his friends, of course!). Place the sign or symbols nearby and give them clues to find each one.
SKILL LEVEL: Preschool
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Cognitive Skill Development